The Doctor is finally back and not just for this New Year’s Day special. And Series 13 will air later this year. And we will have a new companion. A great one at that.
Maybe 2021 will be a much better year.
But what did Blogtor think about tonight’s episode?
PLEASE NOTE THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD
The Thirteenth Doctor’s second special has been and gone and like Resolution is pretty much eschewed festive cheer or themes of Christmas with a big scale adventure. Basically, the specials are the new finales and so we get a globe threatening Dalek invasion. And action-wise it certainly doesn’t disappoint, with Dalek armies taking to the sky, huge Dalek mutant factories, and a pace that makes the 75mins (the longest since Voyage of the Damned!) fly by. It’s punctuated with great wit too, often thanks to Chris Noth’s Jack Robertson. He’s much better used here than in Arachnids, as a kind of ‘stupid Davros’, somewhat malicious, but threatening mostly in his epic lack of curiosity or concern about the impact of his own activities. From lauding the Daleks’ A grade energy rating, comparing them to iPhones, and grumping that Leo’s going off-piste to grow his own mutants “why people don’t like experts.”
As always, it’s fun to have Captain Jack back (and it’s easy to forget Chris Chibnall has written as many Jack appearances as anybody). He makes a superb get-out-of-jail card for the Doctor to get her back into the action faster than you might have expected from the trailers.
And that ending! In the end, Chibnall went The Hand of Fear route rather than doing a Doomsday. Ryan and Graham’s departure isn’t the focus of the story, but simply an emotional, heartfelt coda to the main action. And it certainly hit all the right buttons, with my wife Esther next to me, openly tearful at their final goodbyes. Meanwhile, as the father of a dyspraxic son myself it was lovely to finish where we started, with Ryan still unable to ride a bicycle and Graham still enthusiastically supporting him – “you’re doing it mate!” And the show is too. Over the two seasons of the era so far, it’s smoothed over the bits that weren’t working and getting better and better at what it’s good at.
So here’s to Series 13!
My hopes were very high for the special tonight and it did not disappoint. It was a fantastic mix of excitement, humour, and heart. It utilised the Daleks well and was a great choice to pair them with the skeezy Jack Robertson. Ryan is given plenty of time during the episode to give us a look at how he has changed since we last saw him, which really follows his character trajectory from series 12. I’m glad he had the chance to sit down with The Doctor and help her.
We don’t have time for a moping Doctor and she seemed more energized after getting her feelings out. I would have liked to see a bit more of Graham and his emotional state leading to his exit, it felt a little hastier but I can still appreciate his decision. The big excitement for me is always Captain Jack, and his scenes with Yaz, in particular, were a highlight. Looking forward I expect Yaz and The Doctor will have a different dynamic and I’m interested to see what it will be like for them and the new face from that special announcement!
The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) is back for a New Year’s Day special, the last we saw her she was captured and imprisoned by the Judoon for what we learn is 20 years. But after a bit of jiggery-pokery from the one and only Jack Harness (John Barrowman), the Doctor and her former companion return to Sheffield to find the fam who are already embroiled in their own battle to save Earth. What follows is the traditional holiday adventure with the Doctor’s long time nemesis, the Daleks. Chris Noth returns as Jack Robertson. Thankfully, without the Trumpisms.
The episode is like a warm blanket – predictable and comforting. The Doctor and the fam must stop the Daleks from taking over the world while recalling old friends, old stories and the healing of old wounds. There are plenty of callbacks and a number of conversations that recall the traumas of the previous episode. There is a fair amount of comedic flair provided by Barrowman and Noth, the latter who thankful downplays the Trump-like mannerisms.
in the end, the Daleks are dispatched – a bit too easily for my taste – and the show returns to the goodbyes. Ryan has grown and both his and Graham’s departure hit the right emotional notes, ending with the red bike on the hills above Sheffield.